Once considered unprofessional, more and more attorneys are coming around to accepting credit card payments for their services. Credit card acceptance is becoming the norm. Clients enjoy the convenience. The attorney knows he or she will be paid for their work. For more tips on how to get paid, see our post Solo Practitioners 101: How to Get Paid.
Investigate Your Options.
If you are considering accepting credit card payments, there are many easy and low-cost options. There are apps that allow you to enter a client’s credit card information on your smart phone. Merchant service companies will give you a device so you can swipe your client’s credit card. Make sure the merchant services account is linked only through your operating account as they have permission to take money out of your account (i.e. if a client disputes a charge).
Don’t Connect To Your Escrow Account.
To avoid any improper access to your escrow account, do not let credit card companies have access to your IOLTA escrow account!
Know the Fees Upfront.
Consider if you want to accept credit cards. While this is an easy way for your clients to pay, you do have to pay the merchant services company a transaction fee and perhaps a monthly fee. Compare different plans. Understand the costs of the merchant services as the fees generally go down based on the volume of transactions. There are many apps who process credit card payments such as Intuit and Square. Check with your bank to see what options they may provide.
Have a Paper Trail.
Another note about accepting credit cards: with the latest apps and systems you may not need to have a signature. However, if you are not having the client swipe their card or having them sign on the keypad, you may want to get written authorization from them first.
Catherine Hodder, Esq. and Kelly C. Sturmthal, Esq., authors of Law Office on A Laptop: How to Set Up Your Own Successful Mobile Law Practice, provide practical e-books, advice and support for solo practitioners and entrepreneurs.